When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Luke 19:37-38)
Today is Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week. Every year we set aside a week to remember the Easter Story, the story of Jesus’s death on the Cross and his resurrection to new life. Through readings, reflections, and prayer we relive the story and remind ourselves why it is so important to us. And this year is no exception. An Easter in lockdown will look different to any that has come before, but Easter is above all a story of Hope, and now perhaps more than ever that is a message we need to hear.
Take a moment to imagine the scene on the first Palm Sunday. You are in the City of Jerusalem and word has gotten out that Jesus, the miracle worker is coming to Jerusalem. Crowd has gathered, a mix of locals and pilgrims who had arrived for the Passover and there is an atmosphere of excitement and anticipation on the streets. And then you see Jesus entering in through the city gates, riding on the back of a small donkey. The crowd bursts into songs of praise and cries of “Hosanna”. People start throwing their coats and palm fronds from the trees onto the street until you can barely see the road beneath.
Jesus makes his way through the crowd and you see his collection of disciples following him. He starts to lead a procession winding up the steep streets of Jerusalem towards the Temple But not everyone is cheering, among the crowd are pharisees looking on with distain, some of them shouting to Jesus “tell them to stop cheering”. Jesus calmly replies “if they stop shouting then the stones would be crying out”
What do you think it would be like to be one of the onlookers in that crowd? What would be the sights, smells, and sounds of the streets as Jesus processed through. And how would it feel to be in that crowd, to see Jesus, to notice the way the Pharisees were reacting to him? Allow yourself to fully imagine the story.
This is a strange story to reflect on at the moment. For the last week most of us will have only been in the physical presence of a handful of people. The idea of being in a crowd probably feels very distant right now. But through our imaginations we can connect more deeply with the Easter story and find new truths and insights we’ve never encountered before
Prayer: Lord help me to continually reflect on the Easter Story through Holy Week. May I experience different perspectives, notice unseen details and connect with the story on a deeper level.
Action: Take the time to read the whole passage (Luke 19 v 28-44) and try to imagine the scenes, placing yourself in the story. Take notice of what it makes you feel and what God might be trying to say through the story.